Resources for Protecting Children Online

cyber security

The Internet can be amazingly useful, with virtually any type of information available at users’ fingertips. But as helpful as the Internet is as a resource, it is also a potentially dangerous tool. When children use the Internet, they need protection from inappropriate content, malicious software, and contact with undesirable people. It’s important to learn how to keep kids safe online.

Why Internet Safety Is Important for Kids

Internet predators are a risk for children who browse the Internet. It’s all too easy for kids to end up victimized by unsavory individuals online, which can have lasting repercussions.

  • Recent statistics indicate that 93 percent of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 use the Internet. Of the kids in this age group, 75 percent have their own cell phones.
  • Nearly 75 percent of teenagers use social media platforms such as Facebook.

What Are the Dangers?

The prevalence of mobile devices and kids’ use of these devices makes it more difficult for parents to protect their children. The Internet can harm children in many ways.

  • Internet predators often hang out in gaming and social media chat rooms.
  • Cyberbullies may target children, either those they know in real life or just people they come into contact with online.
  • Scammers often try to trick children into divulging sensitive information about their families or themselves.
  • Kids may find inappropriate things online, such as sexually explicit photos or videos or graphically violent content.
  • Some websites are infected with malware, which can download onto a computer automatically to give criminals access to your private information.

How to Protect Kids Online

Parental controls don’t require parents to have extensive computer knowledge. Security software has been designed to be easy to use so that parents can prevent kids from accessing inappropriate material and accidentally downloading malware.

  • Install parental control software on computers that children use. This will help you manage the time your kids spend online, and you can also set limits on the websites they visit.
  • Install antivirus software on computers to block viruses and malware.

Teach Kids About Internet Safety

Kids need to know how to navigate the Internet safely to avoid problems. Explain potential dangers to children, and set rules about how they use the Internet.

  • Make a rule that kids should never interact with people online who they don’t know in real life. Explain that strangers may misrepresent themselves to gain kids’ trust and to convince them to share private information.
  • Tell kids to visit only reputable websites that you have checked out first. Kids may not know how to recognize a reputable or dangerous website, so always check websites that your children want to visit.
  • Explain what cyberbullying is, and encourage kids to tell you if they are taunted or harassed by people online. If kids come into contact with cyberbullies, report the activity to the website where it happened.
  • Explain that dangerous software can infect a computer through downloads of free music, games, and apps. Teach kids never to download anything without checking with you first.
  • Teach kids that anything they upload to the Internet can never be completely deleted. Even if they remove a photo or video later, there will always be remnants of the data left behind on the Internet. For this reason, have kids check with you before they upload anything.

Make Ground Rules

Before you allow kids to have access to the Internet, set rules that they need to follow. Check in often to make sure that your kids are following the rules.

  • Limit the amount of time children can spend online.
  • Invite kids to talk with you often about anything (both good and bad) that happens when they are online.
  • Tell kids to always treat others the way they want to be treated.
  • Remind kids that you will be monitoring their Internet usage.

Additional Internet Safety Resources

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